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Michigan Buffalo Plaid: Reinventing a Timeless Design

November 27, 2018

Michigan Buffalo Plaid: Reinventing a Timeless Design

Those from The Great Lakes State are a little nostalgic for classic buffalo plaid this time of year.  The black and red checkerboard design has become reminiscent of the battle against the coldest of the seasons, which can last nearly 5 months in The Mitten. From hipsters to lumberjacks, anybody spending time outdoors in the fall and winter demands some form of this seasonal staple which has been around now for well over 100 years. While the history of its American origin is hotly contested, there is one thing for certain, Michigan Buffalo Plaid is an undisputed original and a perfect, stylish pairing for cold weather. Michiganders helped give the buffalo plaid a permanent and meaningful home in The Great Lakes State.

What is Buffalo Plaid?

Buffalo Plaid is the simplest, yet most recognizable iteration of plaid. It only uses two colors, red and black, woven together in large stripes of even width, creating a classic checkered pattern. Wherever you find it, the iconic design is characterized by its warmth and endurance. Why? Because it’s more than a design, it was created for practicality: to keep people warm for long periods of time.

Buffalo Plaid Pattern

The Origin of Buffalo Plaid

Buffalo plaid is hardly an American invention. It has deep roots in the Scottish Highlands with the MacGregor Clan back in the 1600s. This broad, checkered pattern did not “originate” in Maine nor was it the “invention” of the Woolrich brand. When the design made its way to America, it was in the form of woven Scottish blankets that were traded to Native Americans for buffalo pelts in the 1800s. Since neither party could pronounce the Gaelic word for blanket (pladger), everyone started referring to them simply as plaid. Anecdotally, that is why we now have buffalo plaid.

Michigan Buffalo Plaid

Regardless of its origin, for over 150 years, Buffalo Plaid has walked a fine line between practicality and iconic fashion. George “Stormy” Kromer introduced his version of Buffalo Plaid Hats with his signature ear flaps, now manufactured in Michigan. This design feature was added at his request to keep the hat securely on his head when he leaned out the window of the train. Dearborn’s own Carhartt has used it to make flannels and line the inside of jackets. Michigan hunters combine it with their bright orange to stay visible. You’ve probably even seen the design on a pair of Converse All-Stars. In fact, the design has been used in so many different ways, it has become ubiquitous. That’s why we’ve recaptured a sense of meaning for the Buffalo Plaid and updated it specifically for the current generation of Michiganders.

Buffalo Plaid ComboYouth Buffalo Plaid Sweatshirt

Breathing New Life into an Old Design

The Michigan Buffalo Plaid showcases the timeless red and black design in a whole new way. Our sweatshirts, hoodies and knit hats all offer warmth, comfort and killer style. The combination of buffalo plaid and iconic ‘mitten’ shape that is our Great Lakes State reminds us of all the best parts of winter in Michigan: bundling up, building snowmen, drinking hot chocolate, sledding, snow-covered evergreen and spruce.

Buffalo Plaid Winter Scene Young Man

For more than a century, Buffalo plaid has provided warmth for people wherever it goes and maintained cultural relevance along the way.  While its origin may be in the hills of Scotland, it’s found a permanent home right here in The Mitten. It’s a perfect match for Michigan, known for our beautiful outdoors and unpredictable, and often brutal winters. We put a lot of thought into every one of our designs, considering style, comfortability, and originality. We tip our hats and pay homage to the rich history of buffalo plaid, but there’s only one Great Lakes State...and there’s only one Michigan Buffalo Plaid.


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